Before I address you, and I know that you are mostly also workers, please permit me to speak to the fact that we are all celebrating workers across Nigeria, and my message is to every worker, especially to those who work long hours with little or no sleep.
To those who wake up at 4a.m., so they can leave their homes by 4:30 a.m. to beat the rush hour traffic.
To every mum who gets back home late and is unable to kiss her children good night and leaves home too early to get them prepared for school.
And to every entrepreneur; whether they are in offices or on the internet or on the roads; who against all odds have proven that they are tougher than the toughest environment can deter them.
To everyone who, despite scarce resources, still choose to be resourceful with the little that they have.
I celebrate all workers out there.
You are the true heroes of our economy, it is because of you that Nigeria is still working as much as it can.
I declare today before you and before God that you are not lazy, you are working hard.
I know that sadly, the unemployment rate is currently estimated at 18.8% and 1 out every 3 young persons is unemployed. The remaining two are painfully employed, one out of these two may be gainfully employed; However, I look forward to a New Nigeria where all would be joyfully employed.
We can make this happen, because the truth is, people need not just accolades they also need assurances, much more than job security, young people in school need assurances that they would get jobs when they finally go through burning their midnight oils and reading those long and thick textbooks graduates need to know that they would get jobs, entrepreneurs need to know that the graduates that will make up the workforce have enough life skills and right work ethics to drive their businesses in the right direction.
We must, however, understand that all of these things are the challenges we are facing today. I have spent the last 25 years of my life as a management consultant and a leadership expert, trying to help people succeed in their careers, as well as starting and growing their businesses. I know most of you may not even know that this is what I do, because much of what is said about what I do, is borne out of their personal experiences of me in public. It is often said that Fela Durotoye is a motivational speaker, some of you may have also heard that he is an inspirational speaker; this one I like, while others say he is a transformational speaker. As a matter of fact, the most recent one of all these is that he is a revolutionary speaker, and every time I get to meet the ladies I hear my most favorite description of me; he his Tara’s husband.
However, I really like to define myself as a Nation builder, when people ask me who a nation builder is and what a nation builder does, I tell them that there are 4 characteristics that define who a nation builder is; a nation builder is someone who accepts responsibility for the well-being of their nation, not just their personal well-being or their family’s well-being. This means that you are a nation builder, when no matter how well you are doing, if your nation is not doing well, you still think you are not doing well enough. A nation Builder believes not only in the greatness of the nation but also in the capacity to birth that greatness; that our generation can be the one to fix Nigeria, that we do not have to pass on that responsibility to our children, that is what nation builders do.
Nations builders commit their scarce resources, their valuable time, their network and their net-worth. They commit everything they have in order to deliver the future of a Nation. May I be obliged to say that the future of any nation, is not just a time zone that is yet to come, it is not a date yet to be revealed on the calendar, rather the future of any nation is everything that nation can do and is not yet done, it is everything that nation can be but is yet to become, it is everything the people of that nation can have but they are yet to possess. So let me put it in a very simple way, the future of any nation, indeed the future of Nigeria is not ahead of us, it is already inside of us. That is why I did not say walk into the future, I said deliver the future. The future of Nigeria is inside you, the future of the Nigeria that my kids will live in is inside you, and the future of the Nigeria that your kids will live in, is inside me; for the sake of my children, I beg of you, deliver the future, and I promise you that for the sake of your children I make you my covenant that I will deliver the future.
We must deliver a great future, because we have a legacy of greatness as a nation, if any of you has ever watched the video of the 1961 visit of our then Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, to the United States soon after our independence, you would know that we have a legacy of greatness, and if you have never seen the video, I beg of you Google it. It is a USIS video, many people would cry when they watch it, some people would be challenged, but almost everyone would be moved to tears. We have a legacy of greatness; we have been a great nation once even if many people challenge the fact that we are a great nation today.
It was in this great nation that I was born in 1971 and as things became very interesting for our nation, I began to get very angry at the decision of my parents to bring me back to Nigeria from Canada 7 months into my being conceived.. So I was conceived in Toronto Canada and I was received in Oluyole Ibadan, as a matter of fact my mother said that my father told her the story of a dream he had and in that dream he woke up and said we have to take this one home, he told my mother that it was a boy, when they hadn’t even done a scan. I wonder what kind of dream it must have been, maybe I can requalify that, what kind of nightmare that must have been, that it would have made my father deceive my mum, I don’t know what it is. But for many years I used to think that my father didn’t like me much, and you have to understand that my father didn’t really think he was doing me any injustice when I was born, 1971 statistics would show you that on March 24, 1971, 1 Nigerian Pound exchanged for 3 US Dollars, so you would need 300 US Dollars to buy 100 Nigerian Pounds, but as time went by, certain things began to happen, by the time I was 5 years old in 1976, 1 Nigeria Naira was now exchanging for 1 US Dollar 33 cents, meaning that you would still need 133 Dollars to buy 100 Naira. However, something happened, and within a matter of 30 years, and I can share a few of my thoughts on about what I think happened, in March 24, 2006, 1 US Dollar was exchanging for 133 Naira, within 10 years, on the same day March 24, 2016, 331 Naira is required to buy 1 US Dollar; so what could have happened in these years; I would say to you that in 1976, as a child of a lecturer living in a small 3 bedroom bungalow, where there was no special treatment for anyone, it was my first experience of the fact that there would be a power outage, and I remember my mum saying repeatedly, stay where you are before she could finishing saying this about 5 or 6 times, electricity was restored as we did not have a generator then. We were not any special, no special treatment, this was the norm for everyone, because at that time, Nigeria was a nation that worked, but as we lost electric power, we lost the value in our currency, then we started losing good businesses; anybody here remembers Bata shoes, Learneds, Okin foods, Okin biscuits, KDK electronics.
As we lost businesses, we started to lose value in our currency, enterprise transformed from people who you could see the works of their hands, and all of a sudden we started seeing people driving big cars without having big businesses, but we were also losing the value for education, and as we lost education in our schools, we lost our value as a people , we went from a nation that knew what was right from what was wrong and chose to do what was right, to a nation who knew what was wrong and soon drifted to call it alright; and we know that the word alright is a combination of two words, altered-right, it is wrong but it is okay; Now we have gone to another dimension where we now started to label the things that used to be right as though they were wrong and punish people for it. And as we lost our values , we lost value in our currency, you remember that I mentioned what the value of our currency was in 1971, in 1976, in 2006 and in 2016, but I’d like to think to myself that whilst you may not be able to change your past, your future has no right to catch you by surprise, so the real big question that I have come to ask you today is what would the value of the Nigerian Naira be against the dollar or any other currency in 2026? Now, some people are going to say I don’t know, others may begin to hum Que sera sera. Que sera sera doesn’t say anything, and whatever will be is not what will be, but it is what you permit that persists, so it is what you make that it would be.
Let us be very clear, that whilst we may not be responsible for the nation we inherited from our parents, our parents would not be responsible for the nation that our children inherit from us, that responsibility is solely ours, and we are soon running out of theatrics, we are soon running out of 80 year olds, who will be to blame for the things that happen to us, soon we would be the 50 year olds, the 60 year olds and the 70 year olds, and we would soon be the ones that have to look at ourselves without holding a mirror, because there comes a time in everyone’s life, where you would not be able to afford the luxury of self-deceit and the question your children and maybe your grandchildren will ask you is not how we got here, but what you did to get us here. That is why we must have an answer, and that answer is essentially what this whole conference is about, it is about being able to answer your grandchildren when they ask you how this happened, but more importantly what you did to get us here. Whatever your answer is, it will be because you got involved, because you have to remember that this thing called the human race is not a race between the Caucasians and the Asians, nor a race between a dark skinned person and the light skinned person; the human race is a relay race, and every generation must be willing to run their race and understand that there comes a point where you must be able to pass the baton to the next generation It seems to me that many people are already running overtime, and I believe that our nation stipulates that the retirement age for those who would be in public service is 60 years old, so it is very difficult for me to understand when a man who is over 70 years old is trying to run for the same elective office a 47 years old person is running for. I don’t know how it is to be said that you are truly an advocate for youth employment.
But every generation has a choice to make, they can choose to either be a wasted generation or they can choose to be a great generation; now a wasted generation is any generation that hands over a disadvantage to the next generation, and says it’s now up to you to fix it; a wasted generation enjoys constant power supply and then hands over power generators to the next generation; a wasted generation knocks out water from its taps, knocks out education from its school, and therefore does not want its own children to go to the same schools that prepares it for leadership;, a wasted generation knocks out safety from its roads, so that Nigeria is currently ranked 191 out of 192 countries for safety of roads. There is only one nation that has more unsafe roads than us, but don’t forget that we have also been ranked, under the world’s international security and police index, as the country with the worst police force in the world. 10.5 million Children are currently out of school, rather than finding schools for them, we blame them for not going to school, maybe not all of us blame them, but someone blames them for not going to school. Today, 300,000 children are out of school in Benue State not because they do not want to go to school but because of the herdsmen attack.
Today, Nigeria has 1 doctor to 6000 patients whereas the world’s average is 1 doctor to 600 patients. We have inherited a nation that isn’t working, but that is not a good enough reason for us to bequeath a nation that does not work to the next generation, so my question is this; in 2019, as we must make up our minds today, we are going to ask ourselves, are we going to be a wasted generation? So if we are not going to be a wasted generation, the only option we have is to be a great generation, and I like the way Nelson Mandela said it, he said “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you be that great generation, but now the responsibility is upon you to let your greatness blossom…” So what is a great generation? A great generation is one that hands over an advantage to the next generation; a great generation is one that solves problems for the next generation;, it doesn’t only solve its own problems for its own generation, it also teaches the next generation how to solve their own problems, so you don’t pass problems to the next generation, you pass solutions and problem solving techniques, problem solving institutions and problem solving systems. That is what you teach the next generation. They would have problems of their own, don’t burden them with your problems solve your generation’s problems. So our children need not know what power generators sound like, because that is our problem to solve, our children must understand that candles are lit only at romantic dinners, our children must understand the love for knowledge that is passed on by teachers who care and love them. That is our generation’s problem to solve, our children must not know what it means to have to go abroad for good health care, who goes abroad in the United States? Who goes abroad in Britain? Who goes abroad in India? Our children also must understand that there is a nation to be inherited and that they must be very proud of.
Now, I tell you no lie I am a proud Nigerian, but it is not easy to be proud, I want to see a Nation that would make it easier for our children to carry our Green International passports. When they present it on the shores of any nation, the people welcome them as Nigerians. Every time a people go from a less developed nation to a more developed nation they are only called immigrants, but when people go from a more developed nation to a less developed nation they are called expatriates, regardless of how little they know. So, we must stop shipping out our best and brightest minds and stop training them in British curriculum schools. Where have you heard in Britain that there is a Nigerian curriculum school, have you ever heard of a Nigerian curriculum school in America, we must develop the Nigerian curriculum to become a world-class curriculum, so that there is no British curriculum, so that the Nigerian curriculum would prepare a Nigerian child to succeed in any country that they go into. And I can go on and on but time does not permit me, you know the dreams you have for Nigeria, your dreams are the same as mine, they are the same as anybody else’s’. Whether they are rich or poor, people want a nation where they can feel safe in whichever part of the nation that they are in, people want constant power supply, electricity should not be a prayer point, ‘Father Lord in the Name of Jesus as we get home let there be light’ people should not be scared of falling sick, they shouldn’t want to fall sick, but they shouldn’t be scared of falling sick; but if we are going to build that great nation, we as a great generation must accept, believe, commit and deliver it. And in accepting responsibility to birth that great nation. I want to share with you 3 things I believe that are very critical, that you and I must hold very dear in our hearts;
We must desire the type of generation we want to give to the next generation, meaning we must want it, in fact we must need it, a great nation is not a nice thing to have, it is a need to have You and I were born in Nigeria to fix Nigeria, the decision to have you born in Nigeria was not because of some kind of intercourse between your father and your mother, and if you doubt that sexual activity does not produce children, ask any parent that has been waiting for years, you would know it is not because they are not getting busy. People are planted in Nations and they are planted in Nations to build, to work, to guide, to guard and to produce a better version of the nation they were born into, that is why you were born here, you are not here by mistake, you are not here because your father had a dream I have been telling myself that for many years, we are here because it was the sovereign summons of God, and we are ordained with talent, with passion, and with personality to identify problem(s) and solve them for our generation; so let me help you understand it, just in case you are looking for a way to still travel abroad, because today people are running from Nigeria because they believe Nigeria is not working. We are seeing Assistant General Managers run away to countries were they can provide education for their children because the educational system here is not working; and now all over Canada, we see many people that are celebrated just because they’ve gone to Canada; many of them it is their wives that are working, career gentlemen are sitting at home and picking up children from school, it is good don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t what they thought of when they graduated, they never thought to themselves that they would be going out there and what would be is to have lost their status as the bread winner of their own homes; that is because Nigeria is barely working.
Let me be clear, if you need a power Generator to get power in your house, Nigeria is not yet working for you, if you need a borehole to be able to bring water out of your taps, Nigeria is not yet working for you, if you need to send your children to school abroad or to British curriculum schools, Nigeria is still not yet working for you, but that’s not all Nigeria is not working for, Nigeria is not working for anybody. A friend of mine who is doing amazing things in the United States, I thought he always came from a very privileged home until very recently when he said to me that his father was a carpenter with 7 kids, and he was number 4 out of those 7 and that all the children were doing amazing things, as amazing as I thought he was, he was the least accomplished of all his siblings and he said this was because his father could put his children in public schools that were free and they got quality education which enabled them soar out of the country, today how many people can testify about stuff like that.
Just last weekend, I was in my home town in Oke-Mesi, Ekiti State and an Uncle of mine that I used to look up to growing up had become a pensioner, when he saw me he called out to me and said to me in Yoruba that they hadn’t paid his pension in almost 3 years. He said to me that “you know that you have to help me, you know I really need your help” and I would say it the way he said it, he said to me in Yoruba again, “to ba je 3000 Naira to le fun mi” (Even if you can give me N3000), that to him was help, tears came to my eyes, how does a pensioner get to the point where he was looking for 3000 Naira. Nigeria is not working for that my Uncle either.
The week before last, I was in Abuja and stayed in one of the hotels there, I met a young man who was working his shift when I arrived sometime in the afternoon. When I came out much later that night, having been in a long meeting, the guy was at another duty post working another shift, so I asked him, do you work 24 hours, he replied yes sir. He said we work 24 hours and take one day off and then come back and work 24 hours; where on earth do you hear that, when I asked why he was doing this, he broke my earth when he said to me, “Sir, anything to keep body and soul together”, he said he was a graduate of the Federal University of Agriculture, I hugged him and said to him Nigeria is going to be better, he said Sir, if you say so I believe. Nigeria is not working for that guy either, Nigeria is not working for that person who is struggling to sell their goods on the highways, and yet they are so scared every time a green truck passes by that they are going to arrest them for been undisciplined. How do you arrest someone you have not created jobs for, somebody who is trying to make a living, how do you arrest a person who is carrying a tray of bananas on their head, how do you call that person indiscipline, perhaps it’s because we have not yet desired the nation we want and maybe more than that, it’s because we haven’t determined what needs to be done. When we look at what needs to be done in our nation, we must deal with all the challenges we have, and today our challenges range from the fact that we are barely a nation, we are a country, we need to build a nation, Nigeria is divided along ethnic lines, social lines, tribal lines, religious line, political lines, every line! And those who are dividing us are doing so because they want to continue to rule over us, so we need to integrate our nation and make ourselves one united nation. When I was growing up which of my friends was Igbo or Hausa, I didn’t know that the Bakares were Muslims, it just didn’t matter to me, they were just my friends, they were fellow country people, we can unite our nation again, we need to unite our nation with a strong vision, every time nations are built they are built like houses, you bring people with different skills to build, but you must remember that before they even come to display their skills they first of all must know what are we building. Many of you go to work every morning, waking up at 4:30 a.m. some of you, 6:30 a.m., but most of you are getting into traffic or trying to beat traffic and I am asking you, as you go to work what are you trying to build? What is the vision for your industry that all of us are working together as professionals to build? What is the vision for a nation that together we are going to school to learn how to contribute, what is Nigeria’s vision? And a Vision must be a picture of a desirable future that is so inspiring that the people are willing to do everything they can to make it happen, that is what a vision is, I am asking you what Nigeria’s vision is, but just in case you can’t tell me, Nigeria would soon have a vision. On the 29th of May, 2018, I would have the privilege of addressing the world and shaping a new Vision for Nigeria and not only would I show that vision for Nigeria, I am going to also present a road map with which Nigeria can arrive at or get to that vision. But we also need values that unite us, most importantly we need to re-orientate our nation, we need to place value back into our Nation, and then of course we need to secure our people, the job of every government is to make the life of its people better, and starting with making the lives of people better, you must protect their lives and their property. Ladies and gentlemen, 3,094 people have been recorded killed since May 29th 2015, we can do better than that as a Nation we must secure our people, and then of course we must provide Power because without Power then we cannot really build anything, and nothing that we build would work.
So we need Infrastructure, Power, roads, rails; but everybody knows these things, we have to understand that governance is really not a complicated thing, it is simply that the people who are complicated are currently in governance, because what do you say to a person who knows what he is supposed to do but would insist on requesting what he is supposed to be paid to do that things apart from his salary., that is a complicated person. what do you say to someone who looks at a vibrant generation of youths and says that they are lazy, what do you say to people, who refuse to empower the next generation, and rather say that the next generation is not ready for leadership, that is a failed generation, or rather that is a complicated generation, Governance is not as complicated as we make it look, governance only requires competent and capable people, but more importantly people who have the right character, people who would not steal even if they can’t be caught, governance requires people with compassion in their hearts. It is very difficult for anybody to say they have compassion and when lives are lost, there is not even a sound that comes out of the mouth of the leaders, how can you say you have compassion, we need people who have compassion, so we need to have good people with governance.
So I close within the next 3 minutes saying to you what I believe needs to be done to get to those people there, there are 10 things that I believe need to be done, I would just enumerate them
1: – We need to get our PVCs, PVC is not a nice thing to have, it is a need thing to have. If you want a future you can choose, PVC is not just permanent voter’s card, it is the power to vote your choice, and I have started a new movement where I am asking every young lady to insist on asking any toaster for their PVC first; No PVC, No toasting, but more than that I am working to collaborate with a few key people to ensure that every married woman whose husband does not have a PVC by July 1st, 2018 they would lock up. No PVC No “Jangilova”, but more importantly you also need to go and join a political party; but not just any party, prefer to join a party where you would have voting rights as a member and if you cannot get voting rights as a member, work very hard not to become an executive and a delegate but go to and change the constitutions of those parties, until parties have internal democracy, we don’t have internal democracy, we have “selectocracy”.
The 3rd one is please volunteer, volunteer for INEC, and volunteer to be a campaign staff.
Number 4:- Run for Office, and if anybody tells you that you don’t have experience, ask them what those who have experience have done for you so far. I don’t think political experience is required for governance, I think leadership expertise is what is required, and young people have expertise, they have done business, they have done great things in media, in the civil service, in banking, young people are doing great things, in telecommunications most people are doing amazing things, in technology young people are doing the most amazing things, in music, in entertainment, how can you say that people that can build a business cannot run a local government. I believe that leadership expertise is very important and we have what it takes. But then I think that it is important that you also connect with those who have a need, those who are the poorest among us, the middle class have been the ones sustaining the lower class, because the politicians only show up every 4 years, in between those 4 years we are the ones that usually sustain them, we sustain them on roads, we sustain them when they ask “joor so le ba mi sendi ki ni kan be yen o”, meaning can you send me something there, and you send something, the only difference between you and the politician, is that when you pay the piper you don’t dictate the tune, when they pay the piper every 4 years, they tell the piper what to do, they tell them now you would vote for me, collect a bag of rice, tiny bag of rice.
So I want you to begin to connect with your own, especially those I call the people within your own economic dependency, connect with your security guard, connect with any security guard that you see along the road, ask them do you have your PVC? Those that you constantly help ask them to also help us together as a nation, and begin to tell them that there is coming a time when they would come and pay you, but remind them that when those people come to pay them as usual, tell them that they are not paying them for their votes, they are only paying them what they owe them, tell them to ask them where the balance of the money is, their votes are not for sale, tell them to collect the money, it is the debt that it is owed, but then also try to see how you can hold those who are in power accountable.
Number 7:- Encourage those who you know, who have been doing great things with little or no resources, making a difference, encourage them to run for office, and don’t be the one that tweets ‘let us see what experience he has’, don’t be the one that discourages people, because those who want to steal from you don’t need any encouragement, the money they are going to steal already is an inspiration to them, but the people who don’t want to steal from you may need to be told and encouraged and say please go for it, and sometimes you don’t only encourage them you must empower them and give them your 1000 Naira, 2000 Naira and maybe 5000 Naira if you can afford it, because if you pay them then you would also have the right to dictate to them, that is why I believe that we must get the right government with the largest cabal ever. 180 million cabals is what I am running after, the ones who will pay 10 Naira, 20 Naira, 100 Naira, they are the ones you will owe, and the last thing is please enlighten those who are around you, and then be the example of the New Nigeria that we want, remember, you cannot have a New Nigeria without having a New Nigerian, and if Nigeria would be the most desirable nation to work in, we must first have the most desirable people to work with, if Nigeria would be the most desirable nation to live in, we must first have the most desirable people to live with, the New Nigeria is going to be an experience and not a promise, and it is going to be an experience that people would find on the roads depending on how you drive, the new Nigeria is going to come, when you refuse to go on pedestrian lanes because you didn’t leave home early enough and yet you still want to get to work ahead of others, the new Nigeria is going to happen when you begin to care about the potholes and not just about getting a jeep, the new Nigeria is going to happen when you begin to care about other children’s education.
So you must make a positive impact on everyone for us to have a New Nigeria, you must be a solution provider for us to have a New Nigeria, you must be a role model worthy of emulation for us to have a New Nigeria, you must do the right things at all times regardless of who is doing the wrong thing for us to have a New Nigeria. A New Nigeria is possible ladies and gentlemen and it can happen in our life time, but you must get involved and you must start to live the way you want everybody to live, and when you do so, we will have a Nation that we are proud to give to our children and they are grateful to inherit from us.
God Bless you on this Great Day, May God bless the Covenant Christian Centre and May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.